Oh, how Comedy Central loves to skewer the media. After finding success parodying national news reporting on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the new series Dog Bites Man (premiering tonight at 10:30 pm/ET) takes local news to task. Produced by Da Ali G Show's Dan Mazer, the show is a half-scripted, half-improv concoction that follows a fictitious Spokane news team's misadventures. Former Daily Show correspondent and Upright Citizen Brigade member Matt Walsh plays Kevin Beekin, the neglectful newsman who leads the crew.
TVGuide.com: How did Dog Bites Man come together?
Matt Walsh: It was originally a pilot for NBC, and then Comedy Central picked it up. Dan Mazer, the creator, basically wanted to do a show where he could bring together improv with a scripted sitcom type show. He [put together a cast that includes] myself, Zach Galifianakis, who plays the director, Andrea Savage, who plays the producer, and A.D. Miles, who plays the production assistant, and we acted out scenarios and developed scenes in an office before going out and hitting the road as this local news crew.
TVGuide.com: Do you watch local news broadcasts?
Walsh: Yes, and it's really funny stuff. Recently, I think I saw a story on what cereal stays crispiest in milk. I saw another one on the difficulties women face when they are bra shopping. It was during sweeps, so obviously they thought it was a good idea to mix some breasts in to their news coverage.
TVGuide.com: My favorite thing about local news is the weather people's names. If your character, Kevin Beekin, were a wacky weekend weatherman, what would his name be?
Walsh: Weatherman pseudonyms are great. I live in L.A., and we've got this guy Dallas Raines on our ABC affiliate. I think Kevin's name would be something like Johnny Storm. He has a flair for the dramatic, but he's not all that creative.
TVGuide.com: While interviewing real bodybuilders in the first episode, Kevin questions the size of one particularly muscle-bound lifter's testicles. That seems kind of dangerous.
Walsh: I guess it might, but really, we're not trying to make fun of them as much as we're making fun of ourselves. Most people we interview as the news crew feel sorry for us, because they really believe we're trying to do a real news story and are failing horribly.
TVGuide.com: If Beekin were recruited by a cable network, would his style be more Wolf Blitzer or Shepard Smith?
Walsh: He would be more Shepard Smith. Wolf Blitzer is too analytical. Shepard is more emotional. He also admires the work of Maury Povich and Chris Matthews. When we did an episode at the Southern Republican Leadership conference, I kept going up to Matthews like I was his old friend. He was nice at first, but after a while you could tell he was getting pretty annoyed.
TVGuide.com: Being part of Upright Citizens Brigade, do you feel more comfortable with a show like this that's partially improv, as opposed to something that's fully scripted?
Walsh: I think so. I came up doing improv with Second City and Improv Olympic, so I've been working this way for a long time. I started the Upright Citizens Brigade theaters in Los Angeles and New York and perform at them, so it's nice to be able to find projects on TV where I can use some of that background.
TVGuide.com: Besides the fact that it's funny, what's the best reason to watch Dog Bites Man?
Walsh: That's a tough question. How about: it's a groundbreaking series unlike anything ever on television. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: That's a modest assessment.
Walsh: Seriously, though, it's something new and different. The hybrid is kind of a mix between what Larry David does on Curb Your Enthusiasm and what Dan [Mazer] did as a producer on Ali G. This week we're doing pickups and reshoots for the 10 episodes we've shot. If Comedy Central likes them and we get asked to do more, it would be great. I hope they are as fun to watch as they were to make!